The ‘look’ has changed, but this is Sister Kiholm in her own little Tindahan, selling all the jello that just arrived in an LBC box, gratefully received from our friend in the States. The biggest treat of all was the mattress cover, greatly coveted for the 8 weeks it took for the package to arrive (very unusual – usually half that time)
The arrival of a box is a big event with all the routine work we are doing. It is a little daunting at times. The Church is becoming more and more ‘techie’ oriented. Our work is very dependent on using the ldsjobs.org website. Our Center Director has a tough time, imagine trying to teach 68 Branch Employment Specialists, any one of whom might live in a dirt-floored shack, to use the website to help their fellow members? There are internet cafes everywhere. Accessibility is not an issue; but knowledge and a few pesos are. They do an amazing job with what they have. Due to the shortage of jobs in the provinces, away from Metro Manilla, most of our work is trying to teach self-reliance through self-employment.
These Tindahans, are typical. They don’t earn much, but those who have them feel fortunate to be able to support their families. The Pig Project we’ve been involved with is a really big deal. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the recipients actually use the opportunity to advance, or simply ‘eat the pig.’ After taking the self-employment workshop (motivated by the pig project), some of the members of the two Branches we’re working with, formed a legal ‘Co-op,’ to work together on putting together a meat market to ensure that if pork prices drop, they can earn it back on the other end. It also got them thinking about other avenues of expanding their opportunities. It is really gratifying to watch them progress and be a tiny part of it. In the US, it is rare to find the harmony of working together as a community that you find here in the Philippines (unless there’s a disaster).
They are a remarkable people. We get impatient because everything is so chaotic and we enjoy much more ORDER in our lives, but we just keep reminding ourselves of how patient and loving they are. When we do that, we realize that our impatience is much more of a shortcoming than their lack of organization. Recently, we traveled to Tuguegarao (about 2 hours up north) to give training to the Branch and Ward Specialists. We thought the meeting was scheduled with Tuguegarao North Stake and when we arrived, we were fortunate to run into someone whose husband was attending the meeting, to find out it was at the other Stake. We just went to the other building in plenty of time to be on time, the problems was: the week before we had been to Amulung which is part of the Tuguegarao North Stake and knew that someone from that Stake was about to travel all that way just to discover we were not there (since we had gone to the other Stake).
Now if that happened to us, we would be furious, since traveling for an hour on an uncomfortable bus or jeepney in the heat (which they probably could not afford), to a meeting that was cancelled with no notification, is unacceptable. To the Filipino, it is Bahala na! – just the way it is. They will not be angry. They will not get upset with you, and they will not hold it against you. To do so, would shame them. You can be the judge, but in our minds, theirs is the better way. Diba? (Rough translation: hindi=no/not; ba=? thus – slang Diba, or “Is it not?”)
Meanwhile, our weekly staff meeting/devotional is becoming more and more beneficial. We are overcoming the ‘glitch’ we experienced adjusting to our cultural differences (sort of), and moving the work forward – slower than we would like, but at a much faster pace than before we arrived – painful for us all, but that’s what compromise is all about. We have the Lord’s work to do and that is the unifying factor. It is His will that is to be done, in His way, and on His time schedule, not ours. What a hard lesson to learn. We thought we learned it in Nigeria, but we are finding that it is a life-long learning process. Had we learned it better, maybe instead of logging about 200 hours a month, we would be on some cushy mission as tour guides at an LDS historical site – and bored to death. Thank You, Heavenly Father, for knowing us so well.